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Actress Leila Hatami apologizes for Cannes kiss as Iranian students call for her to be flogged

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Iranian actress Leila Hatami apologized in a letter to her country's cinema organization for kissing Cannes film festival president Gilles Jacob, 83, on the cheek earlier this month.

A photograph of Hatami's kiss ran in an Iran newspaper, and a group of female Iranian students reacted to the picture with calls for Hatami to serve jail time and be lashed, as they say the act violates their country's laws. Hossein Noushabadi, Iran's deputy culture minister, did not say that Hatami would be flogged, but he did criticize the act:

"Iranian woman is the symbol of chastity and innocence," he said. "Those who attend intentional events should take heed of the credibility and chastity of Iranians, so that a bad image of Iranian women will not be demonstrated to the world."

Hatami, who gained worldwide acclaim for her role in the film A Separation, was on the jury at this year's Cannes festival. She lives in Iran, and she apologized for her actions in the letter, saying Jacobs had forgotten proper behavior in greeting her, reported Al Jazeera English.

"Although I am embarrassed to give these explanations, I had no choice but to go into details for those who could not understand the inevitable situation that I was stuck in," she said. "In my eyes, he is certainly like an old grandfather who was also my host."